2002-03-13 / Political Page

Homeowners Get A Break Under Sidewalk Repair Bill; McLaughlin Says, ‘End SOV Ban’

Homeowners Get A Break Under Sidewalk Repair Bill; McLaughlin Says, ‘End SOV Ban’

By John Toscano

What should be a very popular piece of legislation among Queens homeowners—relieving them of the obligation to pay for repairing sidewalks damaged by city trees or other city amenities—will soon be the subject of hearings before the City Council Transportation Committee chaired by Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing).

One of the more adamant supporters of the bill, Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (R–C, Middle Village) explained the Liu-sponsored measure would protect homeowners and obligate the city to perform repairs on damaged sidewalks caused not only by trees, but also by fire hydrants, parking meters, emergency call boxes or other such public amenities.

Gallagher feels, "It’s outrageous that the property owners are held responsible for the sidewalk damage that is caused by publicly installed amenities. This bill will rectify the situation by holding the city responsible for fixing these sidewalks, and in a timely manner."

Specifically, the bill requires the city to reinstall, reconstruct, repave or repair an existing sidewalk when the property owner submits satisfactory proof that the damage was sustained from a city capital construction project, the installation of a public amenity, or from the roots of trees under the exclusive care of the city Parks Department.

Liu will host the first in a series of quarterly town hall meetings on Tuesday, March 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Queens Borough Public Library, 41-17 Main St., Flushing.

KATZ ADDRESSES C OF C: Speaking at the Queens Chamber of Commerce governmental relations breakfast recently, Councilmember Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) said that, as the chair of the council land use committee and as an appointee to the select committee on the redevelopment of lower Manhattan, she expects to be closely involved in the planning to rebuild the former World Trade Center site and the surrounding areas that were devastated economically.

Katz stated: "When we think of redevelopment we must not only look at the 16 acres (at Ground Zero) but also the surrounding areas, the transportation needs and the types of businesses that will be viable in the area."

SEARS IS BUDGET NEGOTIATOR: Setting up its team for the upcoming budget negotiations, the Queens delegation in the Council elected Councilmember Helen Sears (D–Jackson Heights) to be its representative when the City Council contingent goes into negotiations with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the budget.

Commenting on her appointment, Sears stated: "The budget needs extremely careful analysis to insure that our borough does not face a disproportionate amount of cuts. While sensitive to the current budget deficit, the Queens delegation is determined to protect the needs and interests of our borough."

Sears was nominated by Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) finance committee chairman, who will lead the council in hammering out a budget with Bloomberg’s representatives.

The Queens delegation, comprised of 13 Democrats and one Republican, also elected Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Woodside) as the delegation’s secretary. Councilmember Leroy Comrie (D–Jamaica) chairs the delegation.

STAVISKY RECOGNIZED: State Senator Toby Stavisky’s dedicated work on women’s issues has been recognized by the Center for Women Policy Studies’ National Honor Roll of State Legislators, a national non-profit policy research and advocacy organization based in Washington.

Stavisky (D–Flushing) said she was honored "to be recognized for my efforts to improve the economic status, health and well-being of women throughout the state and nation."

McLAUGHLIN OPPOSES SOVs: Single occupancy vehicle (SOV) restrictions have outlived their usefulness and are hurting the city’s economy, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing) argued in a recent article in one of the city’s dailies.

The SOV ban is keeping visitors out of the city, causing spending losses of about $1 billion and broader economic losses of about $1.5 billion, McLaughlin said. In addition, a loss of 15,000 full-time jobs especially bothers the Flushing lawmaker because he doubles as president of the 1.1 million-member New York City Central Labor Council.

The ban was imposed to keep Manhattan’s street clear of traffic jams in the wake of September 11, but McLaughlin says the same objective can be achieved by eliminating illegally parked vehicles, including diplomats’ limousines, while coordinating street closings.

"Labor is hurt when business is hurt," McLaughin said. He further argued that Mayor Michael Bloomberg would provide a desperately needed economic stimulus that would revitalize the city’s economy, provide a boost to workers and businesses and help bring the city back to normal if he lifted the SOV ban.

ST. PAT’S PARADE: Saturday will be a glorious day for all Irishmen and women as they strut up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and a very special day for Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton, one of the event’s top officials, and Jamie Barker of Woodside, who also has a major role in the march.

As usual, though, there’s some controversy resulting from gay groups being banned from participating. Because of this, City Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller won’t march in it, although he will host a pre-parade breakfast to welcome union leaders, pols and other notables.

Several Republicans have criticized Miller for snubbing an event which will be a salute to the heroes of September 11, among them Councilmember Dennis Gallagher. The Middle Village lawmaker declared he’d be marching proudly "to celebrate my Irish heritage."

VALLONE JR. HONORED: Prominent leaders of the Bangladeshi community in Astoria and elsewhere recently hosted a reception for Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. at Sakura Restaurant in Astoria.

The freshman lawmaker said he was honored by the event sponsored by the Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Front (BAPAF). He noted how important the Bangladeshi community is to Astoria and said he looks forward to working closely with its members in the future.

At the conclusion of the reception, Vallone Jr. was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Rekha Ahmed, a noted Bangladeshi entertainer and member of the Drama Circle of New York.

Among the dignitaries present to honor Vallone Jr. were Mohammed Anwarul Islam, BAPAF president; Mohammad Sadiq and Mohammad Aminullah, reception committee co-chairs, A. Nazir Sinha, president, Bangladesh sports council of America, and Dr. Mohammad Motasim Billah, president, Jamaica Muslim Center.

‘WOMEN OF DISTINCTION’: Taking note of the tribute to women being presented in Albany through Friday, state Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) declared, "This exhibit is a perfect tool to teach our children the enormous contributions to our society that have been made by women from New York state. I encourage teachers, youth group leaders and parents to go online and visit this informative site."

Some of the women whose images are on display, Maltese said, are suffragist Susan B. Anthony, actress Lucille Ball, artists Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses, underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman and educator Emma Willard.

The Women of Distinction program was created by the state Senate in 1998 to recognize historic contributions by women from New York state and was held this year as part of a celebration of Women’s History Month.

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